by Pam Jenkinson – Night Light Project Worker
One of our wonderful volunteers Fran is planning to embark on a quest to help raise funds for the Night Light Cafe. He’s doing a sponsored bike ride from Lincoln to Louth and back to Lincoln. Up and down those Wolds (rather him than us!). I asked Fran some questions about why he has chosen to do this challenge for Night Light
By Pam Jenkinson – Night Light Café Project Worker
When the first COVID lockdown hit, I am not going to lie, there was a part of me that let out a sigh of relief. Being an introverted person, the idea of not having to socialise and having my small family unit consistently close to me, felt like bliss. However, what has become increasingly upsetting to me is hearing stories of others, who actually found lockdown exhausting. Many had additional work pressures put on them due to their job role, alongside having to juggling home schooling and limited house space to work. Where I had rested, they had to push through with high demands put upon them and subsequently not stopped or had any recovery time since; they had experienced burnout.
By Alanna Chandar-Nair
Jubilee Week at the Grocery was busy! With our Jubilee cafe running all of last week we were chatting to the people of Lincoln ahead of an exciting bank holiday. I sat down with one of our Community Grocery volunteers Katie to chat all things Grocery and how our team of volunteers make such an important difference to the local community!
by Stacey Marriott – Night Light Café Coordinator
We recently interviewed Rae and Alan, who volunteer at the Birchwood Night Light Cafe. Here is what they had to say!
Tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you first heard about the Night Light cafe:
Rae: I am the secretary of Churches Together in Hykeham and Swallowbeck and enjoy keeping in touch with the church’s members. We have a monthly prayer time as Churches Together and when the Night Light cafes were first introduced to Churches in Lincoln, we made them a topic for prayer.
Alan: I presently work voluntarily with the Salvation Army with their Homeless project, having worked with the homeless and rootless in London, Preston and Lincoln.
Along with the above I support my wife with the care of lady with learning difficulties who lives in her independent accommodation and am involved in a city-wide prayer movement.
I learnt about Night Light cafes from the coordinator at a prayer meeting for Churches Together.
by Pam Jenkinson – Night Light Café Project Worker
Mel, has been volunteering at one of our Night Light cafes since 2021. She shares with us the passion and vision of what Night Light stands for and we so appreciate the commitment and enthusiasm she gives to the café she volunteers at. I asked Mel about why she has chosen to volunteer with us at Night Light and why she feel there is a necessity for this project.
I contacted the Volunteer Centre Services as I was looking for volunteering with an organisation on the mental health field and they told me about this project and how brilliant it was.
I caught up with Alanna, who’s recently joined the Acts Team on a six month placement as a ‘Projects Assistant’ through Kickstart. Alanna is working across the charity helping out with most of our projects each week, including with young people at Energize holiday clubs and schemes, Restore courses and our Community Grocery.
Alanna had a brilliant interview with us and has made a strong start. I caught up with her last week to see how she’s getting on.
Tell us a bit about yourself; what’s led you up to this point in life, what are your hobbies and passions?
I’m Alanna, I have been working with Acts for just over a month now! In 2020, I graduated form the University of Bristol in Psychology and since then have worked as an Inclusivity Project Researcher supporting young LGTBQ+ young people and their families. I love to travel and previously I have worked in Paris and Barcelona as an Au Pair and worked as a waitress in the French Alps for a season, all of which were great experiences that introduced me to new cultures and opportunities! I am really passionate about creating equal opportunities and supporting individuals and communities to be able to access the support they need, particularly when it comes to mental health.
What is Kickstart, and what drew you to come and work with Acts?
Kickstart is a government funded scheme offering six-month work placements to 16-24 year olds to get back into work and gain the work experience they require. I was drawn to work with Acts as I felt they offered the perfect opportunity for me to gain the skills, training and experience I would need to develop as a community and mental health support worker in the future. I also felt they were really committed to offering and ensuring my time with them was enriching, varied and positive.
What does your role with Acts entail?
My role as Community Projects Assistant enables me to work across Acts on a diverse range of projects delivering support to so many different people and communities. So far, this has involved supporting the delivery of the Restore courses, such as the Life Ready course which supports people to build strong foundations for life. I will also soon be involved in the Restore coaching support which I am very excited for.
I also support the Energize team working to deliver evening youth clubs and holiday schemes across the city. This has been a great opportunity to get to know some great kids and offer arts and crafts activities, organize sports activities and more.
Finally, I also have the opportunity to support the Community Grocery which has been such a rewarding experience and a great learning opportunity to understand how I can support the worsening living crisis in Lincoln and tackle food waste whilst meeting lots of friendly faces.
What are you hoping to get out of working for Acts, and conversely, what impact do you hope to have?
By working for Acts, I am hoping to support and empower individuals and communities and make a positive impact on hopefully at least one person’s life, if not more! I am hoping to gain a whole host of transferable skills that will help me to deliver impactful, empathetic support going forward and I look forward to contributing to great projects in the community that I grew up in.
You’ve been working with us for about a month now. What have been some of your highlights so far?
My highlights so far have been meeting so many people from different backgrounds and having some insightful and empowering conversations. I have also appreciated the opportunity to further my understanding of the challenges that people in my community face and learning how I can contribute to creating positive outcomes. Working with the kids through the Energize schemes has been so much fun and given me a great refresher on timeless games such as stuck in the mud and dodgeball!
I also love the community grocery! It’s such a great initiative and lovely space where everyone that works to make it happen are so positive.
Check out what’s on here if you’d like to get some help with us, or book your children into some activities with Energize.
How about the biggest challenges?
I think the biggest challenge so far has been having some difficult conversations with Acts service users who are in challenging situations or struggling and understanding and realising the lack of opportunities they are often faced with. It has also given me the chance to check my privilege and realise how different the experience of living in Lincoln can be.
You can support local people facing these challenges by giving to us financially.
What are your own hopes for after your placement with us?
After my placement, my hope is to continue to support under-served communities however I can. I am passionate about pursuing a career that creates accessible mental health support and services for communities that find it difficult to access this based on a number of factors. I would like to explore possible interventions and policies that work towards challenging mental health stigma and stereotypes enabling easily accessible, judgement-free services for all communities. I would also like to do some more travelling if possible, potentially combining my passion for research and academia.
If you’re involved with any of our projects, you’ll likely meet Alanna in the coming weeks. Do say hello and help her continue to feel welcome!
Youth work can be interesting sometimes because we can often think that ‘surely if we put out some games and snacks, young people will almost certainly attend and join in with the activities we put on’, but this doesn’t happen as much as we’d hope it would.
I remember being a teenager, and every week I and my youth group would go to the local park, hand out hot chocolates and play football with the other teenagers there. A few of those young people then asked questions about what we were doing and why we were doing it, and one or two of them came to our church youth group after a while, but a lot of them didn’t. I think a lot of them found security in being outside, in an open space, that was free and accessible to everyone. Sometimes walking into a closed space, which isn’t as open to the public as a park is, can feel intimidating or awkward.
At Energize we recognise this, and so around the school holidays we will sometimes do some detached work, which means we go to local parks, and hangout places where young people tend to gather, get to know them and speak to them about what we do and how we would love to see them at our activities. As we go into their spaces, we take the reins and responsibility of potentially feeling like the vulnerable ones. But in doing so, we have often started new connections with young people or strengthened old ones, whilst playing football or riding in the skatepark.
Studies and statistics from across the country including youth groups and local councils have found that detached youth work is one of the most effective ways to reach young people where they are at. The Centre for Youth Impact, based in London, conducted a study in their study of eight youth work settings around England (though both detached work and youth clubs). They found that young people started to really value youth workers, as they felt they were understanding, non-judgemental and safe people to speak to who weren’t parents or teachers.
We have planned to include detached youth work in all of our holiday schemes throughout the year, as we recognise that young people need people who will reach out to them, wherever they are; whilst also be invited to a place where they know will be safe, where they can have fun, and where they can meet new people their age, and positive role models.
If you would like to or know a young person who would like to sign up for our Easter Holiday Scheme Programme, please use the links below:
By Pam Jenkinson – Night Light Café Project Worker
Have you ever lay awake at night unable to sleep? What keeps you awake? What goes through your mind? How does lack of sleep impact your following day?
We all need to sleep! According to the Sleep foundation, ‘sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and stave off diseases. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly’.
So, it is no surprise then that lack of sleep can be detrimental to our mental health. If you have a mental health problem it can affect how well you sleep, but likewise poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health. It’s a vicious cycle, one of which can be difficult to break
By Gill Simpson, Finance Manager, Acts Trust
What image does ‘Story Telling’ conjure up for you? ‘Once upon a time’ ….. ‘They lived happily ever after’ maybe. Perhaps it has taken you back to school, to that end of day story read to you before heading home. A story just before bedtime is a fond childhood memory for many people. In Britain most stories told are those read from a book brought alive with facial expressions, tone and pace of voice and a little embellishment from the reader. Some people are amazing at improvising stories they tell and in many cultures stories are used as a way of passing on traditions and history.